Italian Goth metallers Lacuna Coil are back on the scene, with a third album, Comalies and a string of European gigs. Joanna Morris spoke with their ever chirpy lead vocalist Cristina Scabbia about life, love and the band’s past, present and future.
She comes across as warm, friendly and open. Eager to talk about her passions in life, she speaks at length regarding her music and Lacuna Coil. When confronted with her own image though, Cristina becomes almost coy. Surprisingly modest, she does not believe she is as stunningly beautiful as some of her fans would make out. However she is flattered by their intentions. ‘I am glad that a normal person can be considered beautiful without being a slutty chick,’ she says in broken English. ‘I don’t have a perfect face, but I know how to use my image. I feel sensual, not beautiful, but sensual. I am the beauty of normality and when I hear of girls who are taking inspiration from me, it’s a very big compliment.’
The stunning vocalist is seemingly ecstatic with her lot at the moment. When asked the secret behind her happiness, she says: ‘I’m totally happy, because I’m doing what I want to do and I’m still the same person without a big ego-that’s the best point. I really take it easy, I am not always thinking of the future. I know it can all change in one second and you can’t really plan your life.
Her contented frame of mind can also be accredited to the happiness she feels regarding the completion of the new album-a sense of satisfaction she is not alone in experiencing as she explains: ’Everyone is happy, the record company’s happy, the management, and all the people who we’ve let listen to the album.’
Comalies is described as somewhat eclectic take on life, and one Scabbia reckons to be the representation of the definitive Lacuna Coil. ‘We have explored different moods in life. Every person has a dark side and a happy side, and we like to be in the middle and explore different atmospheres. Songs like ‘Swamped’ are really energetic and heavy compared to a song called ‘Comalies’, which is still dynamic. It is all in ‘Lacuna Coil style’. Cristina balks when it comes to summing up just that, disagreeing with terms like ‘Goth’ and ‘atmospheric metal’ that are usually applied to their songs. ‘There is a gothic part to Lacuna coil’ she begins, ‘but we are not just gothic, we are a hybrid between rock, metal and Goth, with some modern touches. We are open and don’t want to classify ourselves. We are not just one kind of music.’
With Comalies, Lacuna Coil have tried hard to span several genres, to reach out to potential fans that may not have been swayed by previous offerings. Though she says attracting new fans was not a priority with the writing of the album, Cristina thinks that the new, improved Lacuna Coil are much more accessible than the band of old. ‘We are open to different music, which will attract lots of different kinds of people. We are creating every kind of mood on this album-from melancholic to happy. Lots of people can come close.’
It appears that the band have changed since their critically acclaimed album, In a Reverie. ‘That was probably a very melancholic period,’ Cristina explains, ‘which you can hear in the songs. It was a very different musical period. A lot of depressing gothic bands were very famous at that time, and we were more influenced by the music around us.’
Now, though, in direct comparison to the lyrically heavy nature of that album, Cristina tells of a more mature band who have ‘learned to forget.’ ‘In song writing, we now avoid tons of stuff, lots of lyrics. Every song has always been a special moment, but we don’t want to confuse the listener or ourselves. We have learned to stay simple in the most positive meaning of the word.’
Despite their change of sound, Lacuna Coil have kept on board the producer who has been with them since the early days. Waldemar Sorychta is a personal friend of the band, and the only person they will trust with their production. When asked if they would consider opting for a more famous, perhaps trendier name, Cristina says: ‘It is easier to work with a person who knows what we want. Waldemar is one of the best people to work with because he’s open and that means if we don’t agree with his choice of sound, we just kick his ass and say ‘No, we want this one.’ We are not changing now, because we want to work with him again. We are working together and growing up together.’
Musically, Lacuna Coil have brought such critical comparisons to bands such as Theatre of Tragedy and Century Media label mates, The Gathering. However, they cannot categorise their influences so neatly as Cristina reveals: ‘I don’t think we can really talk about our inspirations, at least not musically. We remain very open. We can switch on the TV and see new bands without a problem. Without intention, we just suck all the good vibes out of this and create something new that fits with us. We always pirate from real life, everything that gives us a feeling, we work on and change it and build songs.’
The main songwriters in Lacuna Coil are Cristina herself and Andrea Ferro, the bands primary male vocalist. Bassist Marco Coti Zelati is the main composer but she says: ‘everyone give suggestions in the practice room, we try all songs, and choose the best solution for us. ‘The band’s line up also includes Christiano Migliore on guitar, Marco Biazzi (also guitar) and Christiano Mozzati on drums.
The line-up has remained virtually unchanged over the years, and the chemistry between them appears to be part of their winning formula. In fact, the chemistry between two of them has lead a partnership of a romantic variety. Cristina and Marco Coti admit that sometimes having a relationship in a band can be difficult, but it has it’s good points too. ‘You have to find the right balance’ she says. ‘To me, it’s easy because we have learned to separate our private and professional lives. But sometimes, emotions change and sometimes you fight because you are nervous, that’s bad, but a good point is that you are never alone, your other half is always close.’
Regular touring and exposure to the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle can often strain relations between friends and family. Not so in this case, however. Cristina has a totally supportive family and though she describes herself as a bit of a misanthrope at times, she speaks enthusiastically of her love for her friends: ‘I really love my friends but they know that sometimes I really love to be alone just by myself. They know how I am and they are true friends and so totally happy when we do meet.’ Touring is a big part of life as Lacuna Coil, who spend a lot of time on the road. For Cristina, this brings about both the best and worst aspects of her job. The best being: ‘The travel! For free, we see a lot of different countries. America, Mexico…so many beautiful places with wonderful people. We played in Spain, also. These are really cool things. If I wasn’t a singer, it would be very difficult for me to do this. It’s also really nice to meet new people. Not everything about Lacuna Coil is nice, because it’s work too, but it’s very beautiful work.’
And the worst? ‘Surely the showers! I am a hygiene freak. Every time we tour, I bring my own sheets and my bunk is always nice. I’m not very rough at all, but I have no problems with the others being rough. We are like a family in the band.
Intensive touring schedules play a big part in the near future of Lacuna Coil, with the band embarking on a European tour, followed by a tour of the US. The band are also keen to do more work outside of their home country, describing Italy’s approach to alternative music as ‘conservative’. This is something Cristina blames on both the Italian media and fans of the band who take pride in the band’s underground image.